MRBTA Member Resource: Responding to COVID-19

The Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association has a membership base of over 700 businesses across the Margaret River region and is also the region’s largest tourism operator, managing ground handling at Busselton Margaret River Airport and ten sites which encompass four caves, two lighthouses, one high ropes adventure course and three visitor centres.

We have created this coronavirus resource page based on our understanding of the developing situation and the issues currently being faced by you, our members. As business leaders, we encourage you to make decisions based on reliable, factual information sources and to take action which is in line with and in proportion to official advice.  

Latest Updates

UPDATE 25th May 2020

WA Premier: Easing of more regional borders as of May 29th just in time for the Long Weekend! Details HERE

UPDATE 15th May 2020

WA Premier: Supporting WA businesses re-opening through COVID-19 – Covid Safety Guidelines. 

UPDATE: 13th May

WA Premier: $14.4 million package to support tourism industry and jobs.  New funding package to support and boost small tourism businesses Follows release of the WA Roadmap to get Western Australians back to work safely $10.4 million Tourism Recovery Fund will provide one-off cash grants to assist thousands of businesses to adapt to the new Details HERE

UPDATE: 11th May 2020

WA Premier: Phase 2 will focus on encouraging Western Australians to return to work, unless they are unwell or vulnerable, so the WA economy can further rebuild in a safe and measured way.

It will come into effect from Monday, May 18 (or 11.59pm on Sunday, May 17), giving businesses and families time to plan accordingly, and includes:

  • indoor and outdoor non-work gatherings lifted to 20 people;
  • people are encouraged to return to work, unless they are unwell or vulnerable;
  • cafés and restaurants can reopen with meal service (including within pubs, bars, clubs, hotels and casino), limited to 20 patrons and the four square metre rule applied;
  • weddings and funerals, limited to up to 20 attendees (30 for outdoor);
  • places of worship, community facilities and libraries to re-open, limited to 20 patrons;
  • community sports (non-contact) limited to 20 people;
  • outdoor or indoor fitness classes (minimal shared equipment) limited to 20 participants;
  • public swimming pools can open under strict rules (one indoor pool and one outdoor pool), limited to 20 patrons per pool.

If businesses or premises want to reopen they will be required to complete an official COVID Safety Plan. More details on this will be released shortly, in consultation with industry.

As part of Phase 2, regional travel restrictions will also change, bringing the number of current borders within Western Australia from 13 to only four (not including the Commonwealth Biosecurity zone and remote communities). The new regional boundaries will allow:

  • travel between the South-West, Great Southern, Wheatbelt, Perth and Peel regions;
  • travel between the Mid-West, Gascoyne and Pilbara regions (excluding Biosecurity zone);
  • travel within the Goldfields-Esperance region (excluding the Biosecurity zone);
  • travel permitted between the Kimberley local government areas (the Commonwealth’s Biosecurity zone remains in place).

MORE DETAILS: WA ROADMAP & COMMUNITY ADVICE

Information Sources

The best way to ensure you are making the best decisions for your business is to consult up-to-date, fact-based information sources. Please find below a list of information sources which we feel are most relevant for MRBTA members.

Health Resources

Australian Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Updates

Useful for: Transcripts of regular press conferences with CMO; Answers to FAQs; Advice on social distancing

Government of Western Australia Department of Health

Useful for: Daily snapshot of situation in WA; COVID clinic information

Australian Government Department of Health

Useful for: Current status in Australia; Government emergency response plan; Government national health plan fund info

Visit Website

World Health Organization (WHO) 

Useful for: Interactive global map of virus cases; Daily press briefings; Safety advice and training videos

Visit Website

Tourism Resources

Australian Hotels
Association

Useful for: Managing guests, health and safety protocols, legal and commercial implications, fact sheets for staff, guests and other resources.

Tourism Western Australia

Useful for: Covid-19 updates for WA Tourism

Tourism Australia

Useful for: Covid-19 updates for Australia’s tourism industry

Tourism Council WA

Tourism Council WA is the peak body representing tourism businesses, industries and regions in Western Australia.

Financial Resources

Australian Taxation Office

Useful for: updates on government support and FAQs for businesses.

Bussiness.gov.au

Information, grants, services and support from across government to help your business succeed.

Centerlink

Government payments and services information

Small Business Development Corporation

Information, grants, services and support from the state government level

Local Business Resources

Australias South West

Member based regional tourism organisation for the South West of WA.

Margaret River Wine Association

Useful for: Specific COVID-19 updates for Wineries and cellar doors

Augusta Margaret River Shire

Useful for: Specific COVID-19 updates for local businesses/residents.

City of Busselton

Useful for: Specific COVID-19 updates for local businesses & residents.

Business Advisory South West & Peel

Small business advise for business planning & developments

Dunsborough Yallingup Chamber
of Commerce & Industry

Member based local business support & networking events

Busselton Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Member based local business support & networking events

Margaret River Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Member based local business support & networking events

Business Planning & Procedures

While the Margaret River region is currently free from COVID-19, there are a number of precautionary measures and planning exercises which we encourage your business to consider. Please find a summary of these below.

Local Recommended Business Services:

Please check our preferred supplier business directory to assist you with your digital updates or other business support.

MRBTA DIRECTORY

Operational Procedures

Staff Management

  • Australian Workplace Laws
    The Fair Work Ombudsman has released these guidelines on workplace entitlements and obligations if your business is affected by the outbreak of coronavirus.
  • Advice for employers from Safe Work Australia
  • Employer guide by the AHA, including guidance and stand-down tools, entitlement and obligations. Find out more.
  • Self-isolation
    How to self-isolate
    – via healthdirect.gov.au
  • Helping staff to seek support
    • The Australian Government Health Department Coronavirus Health Information Line is available via 1800 020 080, and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week
    • Coronavirus symptom checker – via healthdirect.gov.au
    • Beyond Blue mental health support (managing anxiety) via phone, online chat and email

Strategic Business Management

  • Tax relief and advice
    • The ATO has a useful COVID-19 information page where you can find out more about getting small business support. Learn more.
  • Financial Planning
    • Businesses across the region are experiencing the impact of cancelled forward-bookings, cruise ships and events. For this reason, it is advisable to revisit any budget plans and forecasts which you may currently have in place, as well as checking that you are comfortable with your current cancellation/refund policies (N.B. cancellation policies cannot be changed for existing bookings).For reference:
    • FAQ: How should my business respond to customer cancellations?

Financial assistance

  • The Federal Government’s business hotline is providing additional support to small and medium businesses impacted by COVID-19. Operations at the business.gov.au 13 28 46 Contact Centre will increase to 7 days per week, and provide additional hours of support outside standard operating hours for the first month, answering calls from 7am to 11pm AEST. Also visit treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/businesses.
  • If you are a new applicant to Centrelink to access federal government assistance, you need to start the process on myGov.  The website www.servicesaustralia.gov.au has information about how to set up an account or link an existing account to Centrelink.
  • The Small Business Development Commission is available to provide advice on State Government financial assistance – call the Hotline on 133140 or visit their website.
  • Contact free financial counsellors at the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007
  • Shire of Augusta Margaret River has released a COVID-19 Community Care Package. Read more here.

Preparing for Recovery

The region’s economy is heavily reliant on hospitality and tourism and while it is likely that we are still to experience the full impact of COVID-19, it is nevertheless crucial that we also plan for the future once the pandemic subsides, to ensure that the local industry has the best chance of recovery. Driving domestic visitation will play a key role in this recovery and the tourism industry peak bodies are committing substantial levels of investment in marketing campaigns encouraging Australians to holiday domestically.

MRBTA members may wish to be aware of the following initiatives:

Regional 2020 Events Cancelled or Postponed?

Due to the restriction in place from Covid-19 regarding gatherings of more than 2 people as of April 2020, the following regional events have been postponed, rescheduled or cancelled.

  • Emergence Creative 25-27 March POSTPONED
  • Good Day Sunshine 21 March RESCHEDULED TO OCTOBER 2020
  • South West Yoga Fest 20-22 March CANCELLED
  • Margaret River Pro 22 April – 2 May POSTPONED
  • Readers & Writers Festival 15-17 May CANCELLED
  • ANZAC Day Commemorations CANCELLED
  • Jazz by the Bay May 29- June 4 CANCELLED
  • Open Studios April 25 – May 10 RESCHEDULED TO SEPTEMBER OR OCTOBER 2020

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a question which you would like the MRBTA team to answer, please email membership@margaretriver.com 

Will the new Melbourne-Busselton Jetstar route continue to operate?

Jetstar announced on 19 March that they would delay the inaugural flights from Melbourne to Busselton which were due to commence March 25. It is not sustainable for Jetstar to launch a new flight route at this time.

Jetstar will review the scheduled start date in May 2020 and we will keep you up to date with any more information that we receive.

We are saddened to be sharing this news, given the work that has gone into preparing for the flights from all members within the region as well as the team at MRBTA. The health and well-being of the community however, remains the priority at this time.

We have every reason to believe that the route will commence at the earliest possible opportunity, and that the route will have a better chance of success if it is launched at a time when visitors themselves are more comfortable about travelling interstate.